The People Around Here…

Last week I was sitting with a group of people at lunch time listening to one of our number explain to the rest how she and her family were planning to move to Australia. “You can’t do anything new here,” She told us, “People just won’t let you. They are all so pessimistic and down on anyone who tries. I think it’s because of our weather.” I have heard lines like this many times from people in all the places I have traveled. I want to tell them the truth, but I know they won’t be able to hear it.

Indeed, the weather outside was frightfully grey and wet. Depressing, you could say. Perhaps even oppressive. And yes, there are a lot of people in Scotland who will tell you that you can’t do anything new here. The time of great shipbuilding is done. The age of great explorers, naval leaders, and financial wizards is past. Just because they say it doesn’t make it true.

I could tell you about all the wonderful, amazing things that are happening in Scotland right now. The reason I’m here is because of the amazing new things going on in this place. I’m here for the technology, the educational innovations, and the exciting historical moment in which Scotland finds itself these days. Yesterday’s shipbuilding center is well on its way to becoming tomorrow’s center for space technology and renewable energy. But that isn’t really my point. My point is larger than Scotland or the UK or even all of Europe.

Many years ago I lived in an area of the United States called the Palouse. It’s an area of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho marked by rolling hills and miles and miles of wheat and lentil fields. There are few trees and the three dominant colors are white, green and brown, depending on the season. The winds howl through the area most of the year, turning warm days cool and cold days into sharp, biting ones.

Aside from agriculture, the other main industry of the Palouse is education, with the University of Idaho just 8 miles away from Washington State University. Every year new students come to the area and try to settle in for their 2 to 5 year stays. Every year some Pagan student come over from the Western side of the state would say, “This place is terrible. There is no Spirit here. There is no Magick.” How wrong those young people are! The place is full of magick and the voices of many spirits. They just haven’t tuned in. Those kids from the evergreen forests of the West never learned to listen to the field mice or the grass or the voice of the wind itself. It takes a little training, a bit of adjustment, but if they are willing, they break through their initial impressions and come to love the land.

It doesn’t matter where you are, you will find something negative to focus on there. In every place there are naysayers and those who tear down every good idea before it has the chance to flourish. Every place has its oppressive weather patterns, whether it’s the heat that keeps you hiding indoors or the cold that bites at your flesh. If you want to feel comfortable where you are, if you want to really flourish, you need to tune in to the strengths and the beauty of the place.

What perceptions do you have about the place where you live right now? If they are cutting you off from your happiness, what can you do to change those perceptions?

Start by looking for the optimistic people around you. Ask them what they are doing with their lives. Ask them what they are excited about these days, what inspires them and keeps them going.

Next, look for the other beings that flourish around you. Which life forms are most abundant here, most comfortable in their day to day existence. Watch them. Learn from their patterns. Make them your teachers, and feel yourself grow to love the place where you are.

About Sterling

When Sterling was 3 years old, her parents packed everything they owned into storage, put a roof rack on their ‘66 VW Bug and spent three months driving with her across the US and Canada. She’s been a nomad ever since. She’s lived in El Salvador, Guatemala, Canada, England, Scotland, Israel and several states in the US. Every place is a new spirit to get acquainted with, fall in love with, or struggle with. Her path within Druidry is a spiritual dance of learning the relationships of all the people, human and otherwise, in the context of place. She has a collection of short stories, The Imaginary City and Other Places, which you can read on Kindle or in paperback.

  • http://myownashram.com Niki Whiting

    Oh, wow do I relate to this piece! I’ve lived all over the world too. Some places do seem to have more magic than others, some places do seem to quash innovation more than others, but no place is void. For the person who looks for magic or innovation can find it, even if just a tiny bit…

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/asenseofplace Elinor Predota

    So Much Yes! I have only ever lived in the UK, but I’ve lived in very different places in the UK. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, and imagine that life will be magically better somewhere else, but one soon discovers that every place has the defect of its qualities. Scotland is beautifully green… because it rains. The place I live is tranquil… because it is isolated. The ‘perfect place to live’ has yet to be created.

  • Allec Guire

    I am definitely having this negative line of thinking about the midwest of the USA. I grew up in a forestry area so going to the desolate grassy plains is very emptying to me. Not to mention it isn’t as lively as Philadelphia was for me. I have troubling worries that I will live here forever for that reason… But I think this mindset is definitely holding me back. I’m beginning to work with understanding the land for what it is, what it holds, and connecting it to myself like I did in the eastern states.


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